How much Cash can I Make while Teaching English Abroad?

By Helen Hargreave
Guest blogger from

How much Cash can I Make while Teaching English Abroad?

Being a TEFL teacher will not make you a millionaire, I repeat, you will not be stacking up on Gucci; this is no millionaire-creating career.

However, you will earn something much more valuable – the opportunity to live and work all over the globe doing something which is both stimulating and rewarding. PLUS (yes, there’s more!) you will meet some incredible people along the way – and have a bed to crash on in various far-flung destinations for your future holidays! Score.

Wherever you end up, the amazing opportunity available to you is a given, but if it’s cash that you’re interested in then that all depends on the country you pick. You have to take into consideration the standard of living, what the country’s currency is worth and also, your own spending habits. When you’re searching through TEFL Job opportunities make sure to understand that what may seem relatively little to you could actually be a pretty comfortable salary in a different country. Bottom line, it is all relative!

Local Standard of Living

One way to judge if your wage is decent or not is to work out what kind of standard of living it’ll buy you. For example if you fancy teaching in China, you might be horrified to learn that you’ll be earning a ‘pittance’ of around 6,000RMB a month (around $900), but when you factor in that you’ll be living rent free and can get a three course meal for 90RMB it starts to look pretty darn generous!

You might also want to chat to people who are already teaching in the country you’re interested in to see what the average teacher’s wage is and what kind of lifestyle it will buy you.

Currency Issues

Once you’re settled in your new country and you’re getting by comfortably, the desire to travel to nearby countries or to send a bit of money home may start creeping in. So what do you do? It is always worth checking out how much your wage is worth in your home currency. For neighbouring countries it’s a good idea to check out their currencies too so that if you do decide to head over for a weekend trip or in the school holidays that you know you’re getting your money’s worth!

Scrimper or Big Spender?

Let’s face it, we never change – if you burn through the entirety of your student loan or salary the moment you get it at home, you’ll do the same while abroad. There are plenty of temptations floating about like travel, good restaurants and nights out if you want to live it up while abroad.

Equally, if you scrimp and save every penny possible you’ll probably continue to do that regardless of where you end up. So, don’t expect teaching English abroad to be the answer to all your money woes – if you’re constantly strapped for cash at home, you probably will be abroad too, no matter how much you’re earning.

Things to Clarify

No one likes getting stung for money, so it’s always worth having your wits about you and checking any potential employer out thoroughly before you sign on the dotted line. Be especially wary of any promises that aren’t in your contract – often teachers are persuaded to sign contracts for a limited number of hours per week and are assured that they’ll be given extra hours when they arrive.

Needless to say, when they do arrive the extra hours fail to materialise. Pay coming in late can be another tricky problem and make sure you get details of any bonuses for completing your contract agreed before you start.

It’s always best to get everything down in black and white in your contract (which should be in English) before you agree to take a job.

Teaching in an English-speaking country

To make a reasonable living in an English-speaking country is not all that easy today. Many jobs are casual and short term. They are often paid at an hourly rate that is not huge. Teachers move between jobs and may have two or three jobs going at one time.

Securing a permanent full-time position brings in a regular income, but it won’t put you in Chanel, darling. There are some well paid jobs to be had, but they can be difficult to obtain as competition for them is so high.

So, Can You Make Money?

You’ll never get rich teaching English, but you can make a living and you can have an amazing time travelling the world. You’ll make friends around the globe and you can also expect international visitors to swing your way every so often.

Typical Monthly Income Ranges For English Teachers In Sample Countries, September 2012:


Earnings in local currency

Earnings in USD


6,000 – 10,000 RMB

900 – 1500 USD


30,000 – 50,000 THB

950 – 1600 USD


1,000 – 2,000 EUR

1,312 – 2,624 USD


2 – 2.5 million KRW

1700 – 2215 USD


1,168 – 2,295 GBP

1,896 – 3,726 USD


200,000 – 300,000 YEN

2,550 – 3827 USD


1,000 – 1,500 OMR – tax free

2600 – 3900 USD


10,000 – 18,000 AED – tax free

2700 – 4900 USD

Saudi Arabia:

13,000 – 18,500 SAR – tax free

3500 – 5000 USD











English teachers don’t do it for the money, they’ll never be rich, but they will have a rewarding and enriching career.


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